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Athens or Barcelona?

Denver
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Athens or Barcelona?

I really hope this hasn't been asked and I just missed it, but I have the choice to go to either Barcelona or Athens for 5 days in July. I know this is the Athens forum, but what would you recommend? Price is a big factor as far as hotels and activities and could be a deciding factor if one is much cheaper than the other. So far I found that Athens hotels are cheaper, but not by a whole lot. We are interested in seeing history, architecture, and spend a day on the beach. Night life is not much of a factor. I am just wondering what everyone thinks for such a short trip. Thanks!

Bristol, United...
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1. Re: Athens or Barcelona?

lucky you! 2 great cities to visit. Have been to both and had a great time. Architecture in Barcelona is amazing, and it's a vibrant lively place, but for history Athens wins every time. I would say your money will go further in Greece than Spain - cheaper eating out &, as you say, hotels can be better deals. Wasn't very impressed by the beaches in B. (too busy) but from Athens you could even take a trip to an island for one day. Plenty to do in both places, weather will be hot in both, & I would return to either of them but Greece has a special appeal for me.

Watford, UK
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2. Re: Athens or Barcelona?

I personally would plump for Barcelona. Athens is quite interesting in terms of history and such, but 5 days is a bit of a stretch, whereas 5 days in Barcelona probably isn't enough. Barcelona has something for everyone. Athens in July is also hot and sticky as well as very polluted, Barcelona is less humid and more pleasant.

London, United...
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3. Re: Athens or Barcelona?

I think GlobalGeezer may be out of date: pollution may have returned to Athens while I haven't been looking, but the last few times I was there - last time three years ago - it was a thing of the past. There should be even less pollution now that the economic situation has thinned out the traffic. Athens will be hot in July, but has a fairly dry climate, so it may not feel much hotter, and may not even feel as hot, as Barcelona, which is humid.

I'm biased, so I'll say go for Athens, as long as it fits in well with any other travel plans you have. Five days is definitely not too long to spend in one of the most exciting and interesting cities in the world - archeologically, historically, culturally, and in every other way. Hotels are probably a little cheaper, and eating probably will be too. And the beaches will be better.

I'm sure you've asked your question on the Barcelona forum, and will get equally biased replies.

Edited: 7:47 pm, March 15, 2013
Barcelona, Spain
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for Barcelona, Berlin
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4. Re: Athens or Barcelona?

Barcelona in July is indeed very humid, not a great time of year to be trying to pack a lot of sightseeing into a day quite honestly. But obviously museums, shops, restaurants are air-cosnitioned and the Old Town is narrow streets so little sun.

I don't really see how we can help much in this kind of decision, both are cities in southern Europe it's not like having to choose between Athens and Copenhagen or Amsterdam (say). If you are really interested in ancient Greece then it would be clear, if really interested in art nouveau/modernista architecture also; as it is I'm sure you will enjoy either place.

My only visit to Athens was 30 years ago and I did indeed find it difficult not being able to read the Greek alphabet (my mother and I took ourselves to Piraeus and on a ferry to Aegina and I remember some confusion, maybe in the metro) so it's good to hear that names are now transliterated

Berlin, Germany
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5. Re: Athens or Barcelona?

Athens is still more expensive than Barcelona,especially drinking and eating out,hotel prices depend on the season but with the bad publicity that Athens gets prices might be lower in Athens.

Comparing the 2 cities history wise Athens wins big time,it is still the cradle of western civilization and has the...ruins to prove it...

Comparing the 2 cities ARCHITECTURALLY wise IS UNFAIR...Athens (with the exception of some parts of the historical center and Kolonaki) is a total architectural DISASTER :) and as a city it definitely does not have the efficiency and beauty of Barcelona,still it is an interesting city,remember that the new Athens city was a small poor insignificant village 150 years ago when it became the capital of Greece and it also suffered the consequences of massive internal immigration after the war. Barcelona has been a powerful and huge city for centuries and has some amazing buildings.

FOOD wise Barcelona simply has the best food in Europe while Athens has decent to very good food.

Edited: 8:33 am, March 16, 2013
London, United...
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6. Re: Athens or Barcelona?

Hi Lynda

I had to laugh at your reference to Amsterdam. We had 10 days of heat wave in Amsterdam in September eight years ago: temperatures were pushing 40C. I think it was cooler in Athens at the time.

Berlin, Germany
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7. Re: Athens or Barcelona?

Oh beach wise Athens and Greece also win BIG time,nothing compares to the Greek sea water and beaches (MUCH better than any other Mediterranean country) even close to Athens you can find REALLY good beaches.

Another plus is that Athens is hot and dry while Barcelona is humid and hot.,...

Edited: 8:36 am, March 16, 2013
Devizes, United...
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8. Re: Athens or Barcelona?

Hi there

It really is a question that we can't really answer for you. At the end of it, hotels aside, Athens has all the history you can take in and 5 days is certainly not too long. You need two full days minimum to see the major outdoor sights, three days to be thorough, and at least one more full day to even contemplate taking in a museum or two. You can easily spend all day in the Nat Arch Museum without even seeing all the exhibits. Another plus side is that it's also quick and easy to reach the beaches south of Athens, a fairly quick tram ride from Syntagma Square.

Athens isn't any more polluted than any other major city, it's totally cleaned up its act and to suggest that it's "very polluted" is about 15 or 20 years out of date

Calgary, Canada
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9. Re: Athens or Barcelona?

I'm biased, nothing seems to be able to compete with Athens and Greece so my vote would be for Athens - partly for the fact that Athens (central tourist area) feels "small town" whereas Barcelona felt more "big city" - I found the people of Athens far friendlier than the people of Barcelona, and pace more relaxed. I also found the food in Greece simpler and fresher than Spain, and less expensive. (different years visiting each - Athens '04 and '12, Barcelona '08 but on the whole, I found Athens cheaper)

I'm glad I saw Barcelona, but I've been to Athens twice and will be there again in October, whereas I've been to Barcelona once, glad I did but probably never go back...

Barcelona, Spain
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10. Re: Athens or Barcelona?

Alabastron I wasn't referring to climate with Amsterdam, I meant northern European vs Mediterranean culture.

I would say that Barcelona has lots of parts that do not have a big city feel including Ciutat Vella ( the Old Town) which is where many tourists spend a lot of their time.And neighbourhoods like Gracia.have very small-town feel.

The beaches of the Costa Brava are really beautiful, I'd have said can compare with anywhere on the Med for beauty , but on a 5-day trip there's no time to include them. Beaches south of Barcelona and accessible by rail are a lot nicer than the city beaches too. But city beaches are walkable or bus-ride from many other sights.

In terms of history it deepends what periods interest you, obviously both places have a lot to offer. Barcelona has no Greek remains (just a few exhibits from Empures in the archeology museum) but does have 2000 years of history with everything from the Romans onwards (City History Museum is built over the ruins of part of the Roman city), a lot of medieval, a bit of baroque and then the flowering of art nouveau/modernismo